I think therefore I am? – Connecting?

Heart Connection (by Alisa Looney)

Heart Connection by Alisa Looney. Photo by Nancy Regan, taken in Puyallup, Washington, used under Creative Commons licence.

Talking to patients can be challenging, and it can be a struggle to make a connection sometimes. You need to have a plan as to how you are going to play the interaction game, and  it can feel like a particularly demanding game of chess at times. You may have to pick your words carefully, as not everyone is naturally trusting, especially towards someone that they have never met before i.e. a total stranger. What worked on patient A in room 2 may fail dismally with patient C in room 5. Everyone is different as are their responses to your attempts to make a connection. That is what it is all about, through use of all the communication skills that you have learnt, you try to make a connection with another person. How can I ‘click’ with the other person in order for us to have important conversations?

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What’s new in research?

Trial published in JCO suggests even experienced clinicians benefit from communication skills training… AND so do their patients!

A study by Fujimori and colleagues examined the effects of a person-centred communication skills training program for 30 oncologists who were randomised to either receive the training or not. A total of 1,192 patients who had consultations with participating oncologists reported their psychological distress, satisfaction, and trust in the oncologist. In addition, oncologists were objectively assessed on their performance and confidence in communication using simulated, videotaped consultations. Those oncologists who received the training improved on several communication outcomes. While the training did not significantly impact patient’s satisfaction with their oncologist, patients reported greater trust in their oncologist and less depression. Results suggest experienced clinicians (9.3 – 30.3 years of practice) can benefit from communication skills training, and accordingly, so do their patients.

Have a read: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2014/06/09/JCO.2013.51.2756.abstract

Study reference: Fujimori M, Shirai Y, Asai M, Kubota K, Katsumata N, Uchitomi Y. The effect of communication skills training program for oncologists based on patient preferences for communication when receiving bad news: A randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 2014, June 9 [Epub ahead of print]